Golfers have always known how to make a grand entrance at a famous or notable golf course. 1920’s superstar Walter Hagen would often turn up at a famous club before a big match in a tux and top hat after a full night of partying, ready to take on his next opponent.
Jack Nicklaus would arrive at a major golf championship and after a day of practice said 50 percent of the field would have already eliminated themselves concerned with course difficulty.
But when it comes to arriving at one of Texas’ highest rated and finest private clubs, Escondido Golf and Lake Club in Horseshoe Bay, in the middle of the Texas Hill Country, golfers have three unique ways to arrive at the exclusive, gated home community highlighted by a Tom Fazio Championship golf course, none of which require a tux!
They can arrive by boat to the private Lake Club at Escondido, which many members do on a regular basis during the year, at the constant level Lake LBJ which laps the shores of the marina.
They can come by air at the private airport on a large landing strip overlooking Lake LBJ, only seven minutes from the stone façade and wrought iron gates at the club. Escondido’s concierge team will be awaiting your arrival on the tarmac. Or if you want to be downright old-fashioned, you can traverse the scenic Farm to Market road which winds through the charming town of Marble Falls and leads you toward the capital city of Austin or down to San Antonio.
“I don’t know of another club in Texas, perhaps the country, with these three unique ways to access the club; all within 10 minutes of the front door,” said Director of Golf Brandon Dixon.
However you come, the community and course makes quite a first impression.
Superstar architect Tom Fazio has always done some of his best work in Texas, but now the state’s only Fazio design not inside a major metropolis, Escondido Golf and Lake Club, is gaining some statewide attention of its own.
Escondido has consistently been ranked in Texas’ top 10 out of more than 800 courses by the prestigious Dallas Morning News rankings. It has played host to top Texas tournaments and has created more than a decade of memories for members, families and guests.
The future for the member-owned club remains bright with the recent addition of Texas native and private club veteran, J.J. Wagner, as the new COO and General Manager.
“I’m excited and feel very privileged about the opportunity to help lead Escondido Golf & Lake Club to new heights as a member-owned club and property,” Wagner said. “My wife Connie and I are happily returning to our roots in Texas and look forward to meeting old and new friends.”
“Our combination of splendid Hill Country luxury, great Fazio design, exceptional service, and mouthwatering cuisine, including our nationally ranked Smoke Shack tacos, makes Escondido special” Dixon added. “We feel it’s an unbeatable combination for those who want a part of a private lakeside golf preserve in a scenic enclave. It’s easy to get to, and once through our front gate, it’s hard to forget.” Add Lake LBJ in this most scenic part of Texas and it is easy to see why Escondido continues to invite members and receive statewide recognition.
Escondido, opened in 1996 in scenic and lake-filled Horseshoe Bay, is the latest bit of Fazio mastery in this region, 50 miles west of Austin and an hour north of San Antonio, with its superb, fast greens.
The par 71 layout plays at 7,165 yards from the back tees, but can be played from a variety of tee locations. Much of the year, the course, which winds gracefully through the community, is covered with wildflowers, dozens of hardwoods, and families of deer along with plenty of natural, and spring fed creeks. Golfers get to graze too at the impressively stocked comfort stations.
It starts off gracefully with a pair of mainly straight par 4 holes, but gradually brings all kinds of shots and challenge into play. Fazio is a master of varying hole types and presenting wonderful vistas and shot values. The course, like the club, is to be laidback, friendly, welcoming and scenic, with an occasional bite to it.
“It’s a good place to relax, have fun with your friends, tell some stories and play some golf,” said former Texas Tech head football coach Spike Dykes, who was a longtime member here before recently passing away. “That’s what I think golf should be about.”
After nine holes of golfing challenges, players stop at the unique Smoke Shack next to the par-three 10th hole where local meats are grilled on a large outdoor pit and then served taco-style as a quick snack to hungry golfers.
It’s another way Escondido separates itself from its fellow private clubs as its famous halfway house Brisket Tacos were named the sixth best on-course food in America by Golf Digest.
“The brisket tacos at Escondido Golf and Lake Club are the essence of slow food,” the magazine raved with a large photo of the tasty, coveted item, which are available daily at the 10th tee Smoke Shack.
Assuming you are not too full to swing at the par 3 10th hole, you have to thread your ball through a thicket of trees on either side of the fairway to a pear shaped green.
Among the most memorable holes are the Fazio closing stretches with the par 3 15th hole where a large pond takes up the entire left side of the fairway and curls dangerously all along the left side of the green.
The finishing challenge comes on the par 5 18th hole with water all the way down the left side with trees on both sides of the fairway and a green where putts break toward the water.
When golf is finished there is a full service Lake Club with boats for rent along with swimming pool and sunning areas, and of course plenty to eat and drink in the massive stone clubhouse with live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings.
“We never want to be in a position where our members require tee times. Escondido affords its members access to the course at their leisure,” Dixon added. “We want it to be great golf where members and their guests can enjoy themselves.” For the ultimate member convenience, the club has luxury appointed, multi-bedroom homes, members can rent out for guests and extra family.
Hill Country Luxury never looked so good. For more information on Escondido Golf and Lake Club and its membership program go to www.escondidotexas.com or call 830.598.7800.
By Art Stricklin